What is the Good Samaritan Law and is there some way that we can sue the doctor who delivered our son?

My wife and I were driving through a snowstorm in Colorado. My pregnant wife went into labor a few weeks early. I drove to the nearest healthcare facility but no doctor was available to tend to my wife because of many emergencies due to the snowstorm. Luckily, a doctor was there visiting a relative of his who was a patient at the facility. Seeing my wife in distress, he delivered our baby right there. A year later, we started noticing developmental problems with our son. He has since been diagnosed with a brain injury, possibly occurring during our son's delivery. We've called several attorneys about suing the doctor who delivered our son. But they all say that we have no case because of the Good Samaritan Law of Colorado. What is the Good Samaritan Law and is there some way that we can sue the doctor who delivered our son?

Answers (1)

"Good Samaritan" statutes have been enacted by the states to protect healthcare providers and other "rescuers" from being sued when they provide emergency care and assistance. When doctors give emergency care in a health facility setting, the doctors are protected by the "Good Samaritan" laws only to the extent that the care provided did not come within the scope of a pre-existing legal duty (such as in a current patient-doctor relationship). A pre-existing duty will usually be found where a doctor's employment or association with the healthcare facility expressly or customarily requires the doctor's assistance.

Under the Colorado "Good Samaritan" statute, the following factors must be present: (1)  the provider of emergency care/assistance is any licensed physician and surgeon under the state of Colorado or any other person; (2) who in good faith provides emergency care and assistance at the place of emergency; (3) the emergency care/assistance is provided to someone who is not his/her patient; and (4) the emergency care/assistance is provided without compensation.

With these factors present, the doctor will not be liable for any civil damages for acts or omissions made in good faith unless the acts or omissions were grossly negligent or willful and wanton.

In your situation, the only way that the doctor who delivered you son could be exempt from the protection of the Good Samaritan statute is if:

Ÿ  the doctor had a duty to assist your wife (he was employed by the healthcare facility); or

Ÿ  the doctor was paid for the emergency care he provided to you and your wife; or

Ÿ  the doctor acted with extreme carelessness or reckless disregard for the safety of your baby.

After carefully reviewing your situation here, a Medical Malpractice attorney experienced with birth trauma/injuries would be able to determine whether or not the "Good Samaritan" law bars a lawsuit against the doctor who delivered your son.

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